John Robertson has urged Hearts fans to flock to Tynecastle this Saturday and cancel out any advantage Aberdeen may gain from having the backing of a bumper away support.
The most eye-catching of this weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth-round ties pits two of the Scottish Premiership’s top three teams together, with the mouth-watering teatime showdown to be shown live on BBC Scotland.
Hearts have tapped into the feelgood factor around the club by restricting visiting fans to just two sections – around 1400 tickets – for league matches and have vindicated this move by selling out each of their ten Premiership games this season.
However, Scottish Cup rules mean away teams are entitled to up to 20 per cent of the stadium, with Aberdeen duly accepting their quota of 3400 briefs. These were snapped up almost three weeks ago, within four days of going on sale, meaning the Hearts players will have to contend with having the Roseburn Stand packed with away fans for the first time since Hibs visited on Championship duty just over a year ago.
By contrast, there are still tickets available for the home end, and club legend Robertson has called on Hearts fans to turn out in numbers for one of the most eagerly-awaited matches of the season so far. “It’s the tie of the round by a country mile,” the former Hearts player and manager told the Evening News. “Second v third, two massive supports, it’s two juggernauts of the Scottish game going head-to-head under the lights. Whoever comes through it will fancy their chances big style because they’ll have overcome a big hurdle to winning the tournament.
“There’s very little between the teams and home advantage could be crucial if we can get the Hearts fans there in their masses. Aberdeen have sold out their entire allocation so the atmosphere is going to be breathtaking. They will get a huge lift from seeing the Roseburn packed with their own fans. That’s one of the reasons the club have decided to cut the allocations in the league, and the fans have responded superbly to that by selling out all ten games in the league, which really is phenomenal.
“Obviously this is not a season-ticket match and it is live on TV and I appreciate the time of year, just after Christmas and New Year. But it’s competitively priced for the tie of the round, so hopefully we can get as many Hearts fans in there as possible to roar on the team. It would be huge for the Hearts players if they can come out and see another sold out home end.”
Hearts have generally responded positively to playing in front of a sold-out Tynecastle crowd, with only one home defeat – against Aberdeen – in the Premiership this season.
“Their home form this season has been terrific,” said Robertson. “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they’ve only lost one home game all season when playing in front of 15,000 Hearts fans. Having the ground full of Hearts supporters has a huge effect on the players.”
Tickets for Saturday’s match, which will be refereed by John Beaton, are priced at £20 for adults and £10 for concessions. If it finishes level, the replay will take place at Pittodrie next Wednesday, January 13, with a 7.45pm kick-off.